Film subtitles and the conundrum of linguistic and cultural representation

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This article focuses on linguistic and cultural representation in interlingual film subtitles, as a platform for considering methodological issues associated with comparative approaches in audiovisual translation research and contrastive textology. A main argument is that subtitles have a capacity to generate their own modes of representation and interpretation and to sensitize audiences to linguistic and cultural differences, a capacity that deserves to be acknowledged in its own terms, and that tends to be obscured in face-value textual comparison routinely highlighting “loss” in translation. The questions about comparability that the idiosyncrasies of the relationship between film subtitles and their source dialogues bring to the fore extend to broader textual contexts, and to contrastive media analysis.


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